New 2019 Mercedes-Benz G-Class a More Refined Brute

Craig Cole
by Craig Cole

The heavily updated 2019 Mercedes-Benz G-Class is making its public debut in Detroit, a city that knows a thing or two about trucks.

Tracing its lineage back four decades, this leather-lined off-roader has never strayed far from its roots. And the latest iteration sticks to the same winning formula, mostly.

Still built on a rugged ladder-style frame, the G-Class’ bones and body have nonetheless been strategically reinforced to deliver even better rock-climbing capability with greater on-road civility.

Get the Flash Player to see this player.

Thanks to high- and ultra-high-strength steel the new G-Class has lost about 375 pounds. Also helping cut unwanted fat, the fenders, hood, and doors are made of aluminum.

But perhaps the biggest change with this hardcore off-roader is a new independent front suspension, which should dramatically improve its overall comfort, ditto for the electromechanical rack-and-pinion steering. An under-hood strut-tower brace helps tie the vehicle’s front end together more tightly, which should pay some important dynamic dividends. As for clearance, there’s 10.6 inches (27 cm) between the ground and the front axle gear, a massive amount.

ALSO SEE: Mercedes-AMG Debuts New 53 Series of Cars and They’re All Hybrids

If this all sounds a bit out of character, there’s really no need to worry; purists can breathe easy because the rear is still supported by a live axle, one rigidly contained by four trailing arms and a Panhard rod. Ground clearance to the aft differential housing measures 9.5 inches, an increase of around a quarter inch (0.6 cm).

The vehicle also sports three separate differentials. Each one can be 100 percent locked for tackling severe off-road conditions.

More familiar cues include the body’s overall design, which remains anachronistically boxy. The exterior door handles are pleasant throwbacks as well, ditto for the unmistakable door-closing sound.

Overall, the G-Class is about 2.1 inches (5.3 cm) longer than today’s model and 4.8 inches (12.2 cm) wider. This translates into dramatically more interior space.

Front and rear, leg, shoulder and elbow room has been increased. The biggest gains are certain to be noticed by passengers in the back, who will have nearly 6 more inches (15.2 cm) of space for their lower extremities. Additionally, the rear backrest is split 60/40 and folds down to increase versatility.

Power is provided by a 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V8 that’s rated at 416 horsepower and 450 foot-pounds of torque. All that twist is routed to the pavement through a new nine-speed automatic transmission, which should noticeably improve performance and fuel efficiency.

SEE ALSO: 2018 Detroit Auto Show Coverage

Now, let’s talk about capability. The new G-Class remains an absolute beast when the pavement ends. It can safely tackle 100-percent grades (that’s a 45-degree angle, folks!) and ford through a hair less than 28 inches of water (an increase of nearly 4). Additionally, the vehicle’s traditionally impressive approach, departure, and breakover angles have been further improved.

The vehicle’s Dynamic Select system provides five different driving modes. These tweak how the engine, transmission, suspension, steering and assistance systems behave. Rather self-explanatory, there’s Comfort, Sport, Eco and Individual. But G-Mode is the most intriguing.

It engages whenever one or more of the differentials is locked or low-range is selected. G-Mode adjusts the steering weight, transmission shift points and accelerator mapping to help maintain stability while driving off-road. If equipped with optional adaptive suspension damping, it tweaks that, too.

Inside, the G-Class is all new, pampering customers in a properly luxurious cabin. The design is still totally familiar, with chunky differential switches and the dashboard grab handle, but there are higher-quality materials and a new infotainment system.

Circular analog gauges are standard, but customers can also opt for two 12.3-inch widescreen displays on the dashboard. The Active Multicontour Seat Package provides S-Class levels of comfort, with heating, ventilation and massage functions.

The Mercedes-Benz G family initially launched in the spring of 1979. Since then, more than 300,000 have been delivered to customers around the world. Once again, the latest G-Class will be assembled by Magna Steyr in Austria. It’s slated to go on sale late this year.

Discuss this story on our Mercedes-Benz Forum

Craig Cole
Craig Cole

Born and raised in metro Detroit, Craig was steeped in mechanics from childhood. He feels as much at home with a wrench or welding gun in his hand as he does behind the wheel or in front of a camera. Putting his Bachelor's Degree in Journalism to good use, he's always pumping out videos, reviews, and features for When the workday is over, he can be found out driving his fully restored 1936 Ford V8 sedan. Craig has covered the automotive industry full time for more than 10 years and is a member of the Automotive Press Association (APA) and Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA).

More by Craig Cole

Join the conversation
  • Jonny_Vancouver Jonny_Vancouver on Jan 15, 2018

    I always liked the idea of the G-Class and the styling, but for over $100k I expected a better looking interior in this new one. I think I'd rather have a Subaru Forester XT and save some money.

    • Omshhaol Omshhaol on Jan 20, 2018

      Right... Never mind the comfort, the conveniences, the horsepower, the quality, and the class that the G-Class exudes... You don't like the interior so you buy a Subaru....

  • Mike Mike on Jan 19, 2018

    Who spends $100K and goes out to thrash it? I thought those days of "cool looking soccer Mom's buying large SUV's" were over long ago when the Hummer died? Ugly looking German junk.